With the move to recount Michigan’s presidential ballots still tangled up in the courts, we may never know for sure whether it might have changed the outcome of the election. But we did learn some outrageous things about the state’s electoral process. The key revelation is that the system in many places is rife with incompetence that results in the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters who cast ballots that don’t get counted. In Wayne County, for example, one-third of the ballots cast on Nov. 8 would not have been eligible for recount because of handling irregularities; in the city of Detroit, it was half the votes. Had the recount been allowed to proceed, it would have been useless without those ruined Detroit and Wayne County ballots, and others from Genesee County and elsewhere.
Detroit elections officials waited several days to deliver nearly 100 poll books to Wayne County officials charged with certifying the presidential election, newly released documents show. County clerk officials on Thursday released a memo to State Elections Director Chris Thomas that said 95 poll books from the 662 precincts weren’t available at the start of the canvass, which began the day after the Nov. 8 election. Five of those poll books, which contain the names of voters and ensure the integrity of elections, were never delivered to county canvassers and presumably remain missing. The revelation comes atop other irregularities that have prompted a state audit. Among other issues, The Detroit News reported this week that voting machines registered more votes than they should have in one-third of all city precincts.
All sides agreed Tuesday that state and local election officials did a generally good job on a statewide presidential recount that was halted by the courts on Wednesday after two and a half days of counting. But testimony before the Board of State Canvassers differed on whether the partial recount requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein served a useful purpose. Still, the board voted Tuesday 3-1 to formally reject Stein’s request for a recount. To Stein attorney Mark Brewer, who formally withdrew Stein’s recount request at Tuesday’s meeting of the state elections panel, the recount turned up significant problems with uncounted ballots, faulty machines, and large numbers of precincts that could not be recounted under state law.
Michigan’s elections bureau ordered an investigation Monday into substantial ballot discrepancies in a small portion of Detroit’s voting precincts, after the discovery of a polling place where 300 people voted but only 50 ballots were properly sealed in a container. Since learning of the issue last week during Michigan’s presidential recount, state officials have learned of similar “significant mismatch” problems at roughly 20 of Detroit’s 490 precincts, said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. He said there is no reason to think votes were not counted and the differences would not have affected Republican Donald Trump’s narrow victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the state. Clinton won 95 percent of Detroit’s vote. Detroit elections officials told the state that in the one precinct, the 250 missing ballots were left in the tabulator bin, “but we want to verify this,” Woodhams said. It was not immediately clear what caused the inconsistencies in other precincts.
Officially, history will record President-elect Donald Trump as having won the 2016 presidential race in Michigan by some 10,704 votes. But Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate in the 2016 election, believes that the numbers would be different if all 4.8 million votes cast in the Wolverine State were recounted. That won’t happen, Stein conceded in a rally in downtown Detroit on Saturday, a day after the non-recused members of the Michigan Supreme Court ruled, by a 3-2 margin, against Stein’s appeal, leaving the candidate with no recourse. “We may be moving out of the court of law, but we’re moving into the court of public opinion,” Stein said. … “In the three states where filed recounts, we had Donald Trump, his superPACs and the Republican Party pulling out all the stops,” Stein said. “And you have to wonder, why are they doing this? What is Donald Trump afraid of? Either he does not have faith in democracy or he does not believe he won this election.”
Imagine for a moment: What if Michigan’s 2016 presidential election had been a repeat of Florida’s in 2000? Imagine that Donald Trump’s lead over Hillary Clinton had been just 200 votes instead of 10,000 and that the whole country was waiting on one last state to pick its winner. Instead of examining hanging chads in Palm Beach County, the eyes of the world would instead be riveted on Wayne County, where one ballot box was sealed with duct tape and hundreds of precincts couldn’t be recounted because of other errors. A recount in Michigan in 2016 almost certainly wouldn’t have mattered. But what if it would have? “If this had been a scenario where Michigan would have been the deciding factor in a presidential election, we would have been embarrassed as a state,” said Jocelyn Benson, a law professor at Wayne State University who founded the nonpartisan Michigan Center for Election Law. “It would have brought national attention to the inadequacies of an election system that is in desperate need of reform.”
Voting Blogs: Decision Suspending Michigan ‘Recount’ Threatens What’s Left of American Democracy | Brad Blog
If allowed to stand, the reasoning behind U.S. District Court Judge Mark A. Goldsmith’s December 7, 2016 decision [PDF] in Stein v. Thomas to halt the Michigan presidential “recount” is flawed, at best. Issued, ironically enough, on the day we commemorate what President Franklin D. Roosevelt described as “a date which will live in infamy”, it is by no means an exaggeration to suggest that Judge Goldsmith’s reasoning could inflict greater harm on the very foundations of our constitutional form of democracy than that inflicted by the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The halt to the “recount” came just two days after Judge Goldsmith issued a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) directing the MI Canvassing Board to immediately commence the “recount” and one day after a U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal decision, upholding that TRO. Under that 6th Circuit appeals ruling, Judge Goldsmith was obligated to revisit the issue if “the Michigan courts determine that Plaintiffs’ recount is improper for any reason.” Separately, on Dec. 6, the Michigan state appellate court ruled that, under MI law, only a candidate who has a reasonable chance of winning has a right to initiate a post-election count. But that state court ruling, by three Republican judges, did not justify Judge Goldsmith’s decision to halt a “recount” that had been predicated on Dr. Jill Stein’s rights under the U.S. Constitution.
What does democracy look like? On Wednesday, a rubber thumb. As a controversial recount of Michigan’s presidential election entered its third day, the rubber thumb — kind of like the finger part of a rubber glove, but with nubs — was in high demand at Detroit’s Cobo Center. Recount workers lucky enough to claim one of those humble accessories could page quickly through stacks of ballots, hastening the painstaking rounds of counting and sorting needed to recount an election. First challenge: Determine whether any given bundle of ballots is recountable. That means counting some ballot boxes, each containing hundreds of the paper slips, two and three times before even beginning to determine for whom each ballot was cast, all under the patient eyes of volunteer observers from three presidential campaigns. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein lost by an insurmountable 2 million votes, but asked for the recount because, she says, she’s concerned about the integrity of Michigan elections. She’s not the only one — University of Michigan computer scientist Alex Halderman has identified vulnerabilities in the system that it’s not currently designed to ward off, and President-elect Donald Trump himself has claimed that millions of illegal votes were cast in the election he won. A federal judge halted Michigan’s presidential recount late Wednesday night, but an appeal is expected.
The Michigan Supreme Court has denied Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s appeal to restart the statewide presidential recount, exhausting what’s likely the last legal option for the Stein campaign. In a 3-2 order issued Friday evening, the court ruled a recount petition in Michigan “must allege both that fraud or mistake exists and that the alleged fraud or mistake caused the candidate to be aggrieved.” The majority order concurs with a State Court of Appeals ruling that ordered Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers, which certifies election results and handles other election-related issues, to reject the recount on grounds that Stein was not sufficiently “aggrieved” as required under state statute earlier this week. The Michigan Supreme Court justices split along partisan lines, with all three Republican-nominated judges ordering a denial of Stein’s appeal. The two Democratic-nominated judges, Richard Bernstein and Bridget McCormack, each wrote dissenting opinions.
Michigan: Election Recount Halted, Jill Stein Likely To Appeal Ruling | International Business Times
A federal judge ordered Michigan’s Board of Elections on Wednesday to stop the state’s electoral recount after a state court ruling found Green Party candidate Jill Stein had no legal standing to request recount of votes. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said “there is no basis” for him to ignore the state court ruling that said the recount should never have started. Stein’s campaign condemned the judgment and promised to challenge the Michigan Court of Appeals decision. Republicans have argued that the three-day recount must end as the state appeals court found that Stein, who finished fourth in Michigan on Nov. 8, did not have a chance of winning even after a recount and therefore is not an “aggrieved” candidate.
Sanilac County Clerk Denise McGuire said she hasn’t yet canceled her recount team. While a federal judge late Wednesday halted the hand recount of 4.8 million ballots cast for president in Michigan after days of conflicting court decisions, McGuire isn’t quite sure the wild ride is over. “We are scheduled for Sunday, I am waiting until tomorrow before I call the recount team members to cancel,” she said in an email. “The Bureau of Elections’ message was they didn’t expect it to resume and I want to make sure further appeals are not filed today.” St. Clair County was scheduled to begin the recount of its nearly 80,000 ballots Thursday morning. Following orders from the state that came after the judge’s decision, County Clerk Jay DeBoyer called off his workers planning to come to the Blue Water Convention Center. “We are not going to turn the ballots back to the local clerks and we are not going to tear down our room any time soon,” he said.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein is in line for a big check from the State of Michigan after the recount she requested was stopped by a federal judge and the state Board of Canvassers after only three days of counting ballots. Under state law, Stein had to pay $125 per precinct — or $973,250 — to count Michigan’s 7,786 in-person and absentee voting precincts. That check was delivered to state officials when she requested the recount last week. Now, with only a fraction of the recount completed, Michigan’s Secretary of State is prepared to refund a portion of that amount, said Fred Woodhams, spokesman for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. Stein will have to pay for the precincts in Michigan that were counted, but she will not be charged for the precincts that couldn’t be counted because of problems with the ballot containers. When the recount was stopped Wednesday after a ruling from U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith, 26 counties had started counting their ballots.
Supporters of Green Party candidate Jill Stein and the statewide presidential recount she requested in Michigan aren’t thrilled with state and federal court rulings that shut the process down as of Thursday morning. The Green Party is expected to hold an “emergency rally” in front of the state Supreme Court building 2 p.m. Thursday at 925 W. Ottawa St. to protest a decision they consider unfair and potentially harmful to Michigan voters. “The discrepancies we’ve discovered while counting votes so far are precisely the reason we need a recount in the first place,” Green Party member Lou Novak said in a statement. “We will not back down from this fight now. The Michigan Supreme Court must do its job.”
Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers canceled plans Thursday to hold a formality vote on ending a statewide recount of the presidential election after a federal judge effectively shut down the recount Wednesday night. The panel of two Republicans and two Democrats approved an order on Wednesday that instructed state election officials to stop the recount if U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith lifted a restraining order that triggered the recount on Monday. “It was determined that their vote yesterday addressed the order from the Court of Appeals, so there’s no need to vote and the recount is stopped,” said Fred Woodhams, spokesman for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. As a result, the state’s certified results from Nov. 28 stand, Woodham said Thursday. President-elect Donald Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes over Democrat Hillary Clinton, a 47.5 percent to 47.3 percent victory.
A federal judge Wednesday suspended a recount of the Nov. 8 presidential election that started three days ago and has yet to reveal fraud or significantly alter the results. The manual statewide recount cost as much as $3 million but stopped after U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith lifted a temporary restraining order preventing state officials from stopping a recount prompted by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. A state election board could end the recount at a scheduled Thursday meeting. Stein failed to show she was an aggrieved candidate as defined by state law and entitled to a recount, the judge said. He concluded Stein’s request to test the election system’s vulnerability to fraud lacked evidence. “But invoking a court’s aid to remedy that problem in the manner plaintiffs have chosen — seeking a recount as an audit of the election to test whether the vulnerability led to actual compromise of the voting system — has never been endorsed by any court, and would require, at a minimum, evidence of significant fraud or mistake — and not speculative fear of them. Such evidence has not been presented here.”
Jill Stein could be on the hook for millions of dollars to cover the cost of a Michigan election recount if a Republican-sponsored bill is enacted into law. HB 6097 would require candidates more than 5 percent of the vote behind the winner to pay the entire actual cost of a statewide recount, and it would be retroactive to the beginning of 2016. It would only apply to statewide and federal offices. House Elections Committee Chair Lisa Lyons, R-Alto, introduced the bill last week and it passed out of that committee on Tuesday, Dec. 6. All five Republicans on the committee approved moving the bill forward. Democrats Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, and Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, voted against it and Democrat Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline, abstained. A recount of Michigan’s vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election began Monday. Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, is paying a required fee of $973,250, but Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has said the actual cost could be $2 million or more.
Dueling court rulings left the fate of a presidential vote recount in Michigan uncertain on Tuesday night, and elections officials in the state said they were “seeking clarity about the next steps.” A recount of last month’s election had already begun in parts of Michigan, one of three closely contested states where Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential nominee, had called for new counts, when the seemingly conflicting legal decisions emerged late Tuesday from state and federal courts in Michigan. Ms. Stein has cited concerns about computer hacking and the reliability of voting machines, setting off legal fights with lawyers for President-elect Donald J. Trump, his campaign and his allies, who view the recounts as a needless and expensive tactic. A panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals found that Ms. Stein, who finished a distant fourth to Mr. Trump in the election, had not met the state’s requirements for a recount because she had no chance of winning. The panel concluded that the Michigan Board of State Canvassers ought not to have permitted a recount to go forward because Ms. Stein, given the size of the vote for her, could not be deemed “aggrieved,” as required for a recount under state election law.
A Michigan court and a federal court of appeals on Tuesday issued dueling orders on Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s recount push in the state. The dueling ruling resulted in Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette taking the recount case back to U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith, who on Monday issued an order that started the recount on that day at noon. On Tuesday evening the Michigan Court of Appeals directed the state’s Board of Canvassers to deny a recount petition by Stein. Meanwhile, in an order issued Tuesday evening, the 6th Circuit panel split, 2-1, along partisan lines in declining to temporarily lift the order that required the recount to begin by noon Monday in order to meet a target next week for states to name Electoral College electors. The Michigan Republican Party and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette had both asked the appeals court to step in.
A federal appeals court upheld the Michigan recount that’s been under way since Monday in an opinion issued late Tuesday, just moments before a state appeals court issued an opinion saying the recount should never have been allowed to begin. The dueling appellate opinions set up further proceedings before U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith, who ordered the recount to begin Monday, two days before state officials had scheduled it to start. In a 2-1 opinion, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals said Goldsmith “did not abuse (his) discretion” in ruling that the start of the recount should be accelerated to Monday, from a planned start date of Wednesday. Though that’s a blow to the Michigan Republican Party, which sought to stop the recount, the ruling also contained hope for state Republicans, because it was limited to Goldsmith’s action in doing away with a planned two business-day delay in starting the recount in Michigan. It didn’t address whether the recount itself was lawful.
The recount of the Michigan’s 2016 presidential election expanded across the state Tuesday and continued to uncover problems that made dozens of precincts ineligible for recount under state law. At issue are discrepancies between the number of voters who cast ballots and the number of ballots found in the ballot box on election night. In Wayne County, officials must decide what to do with 610 precincts, including 392 in Detroit, where the numbers don’t match. Oakland County has concluded that at least 17 precincts can’t be recounted and in Macomb, at least seven are ineligible. What that means is the election night returns will stand (for those precincts),” Chis Thomas, director of elections for the state of Michigan.
Michigan: Most states would recount Michigan’s mismatched ballots despite flaws | Detroit Free Press
Michigan’s recount law is more restrictive than most states, which would typically recount precincts with minor discrepancies if they appeared to be caused by poll worker error, experts said today. Michigan’s law, which dates to 1954, excludes from recount precincts where “the number of ballots to be recounted and the number of ballots issued on election day as shown on the poll list or the computer printout do not match and the difference is not explained to the satisfaction of the board of canvassers.” In those cases, the vote total approved by the November canvass stands. In Oakland County, which is slightly ahead of the other counties because it began its recount Monday, officials said at least 17 precincts can’t be recounted because of a discrepancy in the numbers. In Macomb, where the recount got underway Tuesday, there were at least seven. In some cases, the discrepancy was only one ballot. In other cases, it was as high as 11.
Broken polling machines may have put vote counts in question in more than half of Detroit’s precincts and nearly one-third of surrounding Wayne County, possibly throwing the Michigan recount into chaos. If the discrepancies can’t be solved by recounting every paper ballot in question by hand, a recount in those precincts simply won’t happen. Donald Trump’s slim margin over Hillary Clinton means any chance that the state might flip on a recount likely hinges on Wayne County, where she won by a landslide. Clinton lost by 10,704 votes in Michigan; Wayne’s population of 1,759,335 makes it the likeliest candidate to contain errors bigger than that margin. Eighty-seven of Wayne County’s decade-old voting machines broke on election day, according to Detroit’s elections director, Daniel Baxter. He told the Detroit News, which first reported the story, that ballot scanners often jammed when polling place workers were trying to operate them. Every time a jammed ballot was removed and reinserted, he suspects the machine may have re-counted it.
One-third of precincts in Wayne County could be disqualified from an unprecedented statewide recount of presidential election results because of problems with ballots. Michigan’s largest county voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but officials couldn’t reconcile vote totals for 610 of 1,680 precincts during a countywide canvass of vote results late last month. Most of those are in heavily Democratic Detroit, where the number of ballots in precinct poll books did not match those of voting machine printout reports in 59 percent of precincts, 392 of 662. According to state law, precincts whose poll books don’t match with ballots can’t be recounted. If that happens, original election results stand. “It’s not good,” conceded Daniel Baxter, elections director for the city of Detroit.
As the largest election recount in state history got under way across Michigan this afternoon, the state Republican Party sought to stop the counting by appealing a ruling issued earlier today by a Detroit federal judge. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith got the recount started after a rare Sunday court hearing, granting Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s request for the hand recounting of about 4.8 million ballots starting today , instead of waiting until Wednesday as called for under Michigan law. The Michigan Republican Party, through its attorney Gary Gordon of Lansing, filed notice this afternoon it plans to file an appeal of Goldsmith’s ruling with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Despite the appeal notice, the recount continues unless Goldsmith’s order is stayed or overturned.
A federal judge early Monday morning ordered a recount of Michigan’s presidential ballots to begin at noon on Monday, and for the state to “assemble necessary staff to work sufficient hours” to complete the recount by a Dec. 13 federal deadline. Lawyers for Green Party candidate Jill Stein urged the action in an emergency request, and U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith held a rare Sunday hearing in federal court. It lasted three hours, and Goldsmith issued a written opinion just after midnight on Monday morning. Goldsmith said a state law requiring a two business day waiting period to start the recount likely violates voting rights. Stein has shown “a credible threat that the recount, if delayed, would not be completed” by Dec. 13 — the federal “safe harbor” deadline to guarantee Michigan’s electoral votes are counted when the electoral college meets on Dec. 19.
Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 Friday, on President-elect Donald Trump’s objection to Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s request for a recount of all presidential ballots cast in Michigan, meaning a hand recount of Michigan’s presidential ballots could begin late Tuesday or likely early Wednesday. Still, a lawsuit filed Friday by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette places any recount in doubt. Schuette asked the Michigan Supreme Court, which has a 5-2 majority of Republican nominees, to block the recount as a costly and pointless exercise. Trump also filed a lawsuit late Friday against the Board of State Canvassers, asking the Michigan Court of Appeals for an injunction to block the recount. Despite what would be a delayed start, Elections Director Chris Thomas said he still hopes all 4.8 million ballots can be recounted. He said he doubts the Dec. 13 deadline that has been frequently cited is a “real deadline,” and said Michigan may have until Dec. 17 — two days before the electoral college is set to meet — to complete its recount, though he said he is still researching that legal question.
A hearing is expected in U.S. District Court in Detroit Sunday to decide when a recount of Michigan presidential election ballots can begin. Green Party candidate Jill Stein filed suit against state election officials in federal court in Detroit late Friday in the latest in a raft of lawsuits over her request for a recount of Michigan’s presidential election vote. Barring a court injunction, the hand recount of about 4.8 million Michigan ballots is likely to begin Wednesday, though it is possible it could get under way late on Tuesday, state Director of Elections Chris Thomas said Friday. Thomas made that determination after the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked, 2-2, on president-elect Donald Trump’s objections to Stein’s request for a recount — meaning the recount proceeds. Thomas said that under state election law, officials must wait two business days after ruling on Trump’s protest, before starting the recount. But in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit, Stein says that delay is unreasonable and violates equal protection and due process rights guaranteed under the Constitution, “effectively denying the right to vote” if the recount is not completed in time to meet federal deadlines. The court announced late Saturday night that it would hear the case in a rare Sunday hearing. The 10:30 a.m.case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith.
A federal judge was asking skeptical questions Sunday about Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s request to order the immediate start of a presidential recount in Michigan. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith asked Stein attorney Mark Brewer to explain what the harm is in waiting until Wednesday, as planned, especially after Brewer conceded that the recount could still likely be completed by Dec. 13 if started Wednesday, though it would take more money and resources. To get a court order, Stein must show she will suffer “irreparable harm” if the recount doesn’t start immediately. Lawyers for the Michigan Republican Party argued that there can be no irreparable harm, if the recount can still get done with a Wednesday start. “I think the hearing should be over, based on that admission,” attorney Gary Gordon of Lansing, who has represented Trump and the Michigan Republican Party, told the judge about Brewer’s statement.
Donald Trump asked the state of Michigan on Thursday to reject Jill Stein’s request for a recount of the presidential election. Attorneys for the US president-elect argued in a filing to Michigan election officials that Stein was not entitled to the recount and that it could not be completed in time before the state must cast its electoral college votes. “Michigan should not grant this lawless, insulting request, and its voters should not risk having the Electoral College door knocked off its hinges, all because a one-percent candidate is dissatisfied with the election’s outcome,” Trump’s filing said. Trump accused Stein of creating an “electoral farce” and claimed that she “aims to sow doubts regarding the legitimacy of the presidential election”. Stein, who has also filed for recounts in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, described Trump’s move as an “attempt to undermine democracy” and assured supporters that the recount would go ahead.
Saying that Michigan should not grant “this lawless, insulting request,” the campaign of President-elect Donald Trump filed an objection Thursday afternoon to a request to recount nearly 4.8 million votes cast for President in Michigan. Michigan’s “voters should not risk having the Electoral College door knocked off its hinges all because a 1% candidate is dissatisfied with the election’s outcome,” the objection stated. “Given her tiny vote total, (Green Party presidential candidate Jill) Stein does not and could not possibly allege a good faith belief that she may have won the state of Michigan.” The objection will put a hold on any recount of votes until the state Board of Canvassers can rule on the objection at a meeting scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday. Once that ruling is made, Chris Thomas, director of the state Department of Elections, said the recount can’t start for two business days, which could mean a recount won’t start until next week. The recount had been scheduled to begin on Friday in Oakland and Ingham counties and continue throughout the weekend in the state’s largest 19 counties. All the weekend work has been postponed until the objection is resolved. State elections officials said it hoped to finish a recount by Dec. 10, but the legal filing puts that schedule in jeopardy.